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Together Through Life
Vinyl + Audio CD | LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Together Through Life
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Vinyl LP pressing. 2009 release from the Rock legend. Together Through Life was recorded late last year and features 10 new songs including 'Life Is Hard', 'Beyond Here Lies Nothin' and 'It's All Good.' This album is the 46th release from Dylan, and follows 2006's platinum-selling album Modern Times, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and reached the top of the charts in seven additional countries and the Top 5 in 22 countries around the world. Bob Dylan's three previous studio albums have been universally hailed as among the best of his storied career, achieving new levels of commercial success and critical acclaim for the artist.
Top Customer Reviews
Whereas Modern Times found Dylan mining similar subjects and moods to those explored in Love and Theft and Time Out of Mind, Together Through Life distinguishes itself by consisting pretty much entirely of love songs. It's still Dylan, though, so these aren't sappy or hackneyed--the words are full of wry frustration, sensuality, compelling nostalgia, and some of the purest heartfelt devotion the man has ever committed to tape. The album's opener and de facto 'single,' "Beyond Here Lies Nothing," kicks things off in a relatively heavy fashion, as pounding toms and dirty guitar licks frame Dylan's shadowy descriptions of consuming love. It's immediately evident that Dylan the producer isn't sticking with the same old formula--he's increased his acoustic instrumentation, including mandolins, violins, banjos, and especially an accordion, and to great and organic effect. The accordion's cheerful, liquid, flitting timbres really complement the laid-back nature of this set of songs, and it strongly recalls Dylan's days with The Band (which never hurts, so far as I'm concerned).
Anyone who's still contending that Dylan's voice is shot needs only to listen to the down-tempo, mandolin-drenched "Life Is Hard," one of Dylan's most successful torch songs, to hear how much heartbreaking emotion he's still capable of wringing out of his own words, even cooing wordlessly toward the song's end. Likewise, "I Feel a Change Comin' On" serves up Dylan's most heartfelt expressions of tenderness since Time Out of Mind's "Make You Feel My Love." Worry not, though--Dylan's nostalgia is leavened by his characteristic wit and inimitable strangeness. "My Wife's Home Town," with its "I just wanna say that hell's my wife's home town" refrain, contains plenty of tongue-in-cheek mock self-pity and Dylan's chuckling at the end of the track is worth the album's price alone. The album's closer, "It' All Good" takes some extremely effective ironic liberties with the titular saying, and the bluesy "Jolene" follows suit, surprisingly containing one of the best guitar hooks in his recent history. Dylan's fascinatingly surreal blending of American culture, mood and geography also pops up numerous times, especially on the downtrodden "If You Ever Go To Houston," and we get to see more than a few mysterious characters as the album unwinds. Finally, "Shake Shake Mama" has one of Dylan's most addictive vocal melodies backed with some gnarly guitar bends--I can imagine that this song will be a total crusher live.
Throughout, Dylan's production remains top-notch. The sound is warm and organic; on Modern Times I felt that the sound lacked a certain grit or oomph to back the harder-edged tunes with the energy they deserved, but here Jack Frost (aka Bob) has hit a sweet spot that better matches the mood of the material, letting the accordion swirl and the electric guitars growl dirtily. It sounds even better if you crank it up a few notches--a hallmark of good mastering. While a couple of songs tread sonically very close to earlier territory ("This Dream of You" almost sounds like an outtake from Desire, and "Forgetful Heart" would fit inconspicuously on Time Out of Mind), the strength of the songwriting here and the love song concept makes Together Through Life an eminently satisfying listening experience that sounds fresh even alongside his most recent work. Overall, while Modern Times had a couple tracks that didn't really click for me, I can't spy a weak song in this set.
As far as the bonus material goes in this "deluxe" version, it's about the same as earlier deluxe editions--nothing essential or earth shattering, but certainly of interest to fans and collectors. The second disc is a Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio Hour (a program that's really worth checking out for the great music and Dylan's entertaining commentary), and the third is an interview outtake from No Direction Home. Unless you're a really big fan, you're probably ok with the standard version, although the deluxe one isn't much more expensive. As far as I'm concerned, Dylan has produced so much great material in his career that he really doesn't owe us anything new. But if he wants to keep putting out albums this great, who am I to say no? Here's hoping the next one is just as good.
Dylan's 33rd studio album comes packaged with a CD of tracks from his delightful radio show, "Theme Time Radio Hour" -- an appropriate union given that his latest has a similar old-time feel and would fit in perfectly the next time he turns DJ.
The CD has reignited interest in Dylan as a relevant artist of our times, as opposed to a legendary antiquity.
"Together Through Life" is characterised by a loose swing and prominent accordion. He has assemble here his warmest, most unforced, set of songs in recent memory.
The album is a beautifully played collection of antique, urban blues pop.The ghosts of the great Chicago bluesmen haunt these song structures.
The results have been compared to the vintage Chicago blues sound of Chess Records.
A warm, wheezy accordion (played by David Hidalgo of Los Lobos) lends a borderline Tex Mex flavour.
At least half of the songs are wry, even slightly comic tales of ordinary American lives of desire, heartbreak and remorse.
For sure,the lyrics, co-written with poet Robert Hunter, a "non-performing" member of The Grateful Dead, won't intrigue the academics but the head-nodding grooves of "It's All Good" and "If You Ever Go to Houston" will appeal to more basic instincts.
The single song, "Life is Hard", written and recorded for Olivier Dahan's forthcoming film, "My Own Love Song" (it's about a road trip to Memphis undertaken by a wheelchair-bound singer and her best buddy) "proves an incongruent trigger for such a bluesy album, its lap steel and mandolin carrying one of Dylan's most uncomfortably pitched croons". -Independent
"There is nothing as epic or as playful as "Highlands" or as plaintive as "Nettie Moore", nothing with the weight or depth of those late Dylan songs that possess the resonance of the great blues and folk ballads he loves. By the end, you may feel that you are listening more to that strange whispery croak of a voice than to the words themselves". - Sean O'Hagan
Dylan sounds gruffer and less nasal than on his last one, Modern Times, approaching Tom Waits territory on "My Wife's Home Town".
Yet the album shocases Bob Dylan in fairly relaxed, spontaneous mood, content to grab such grooves and sentiments as flit momentarily across his radar. So while it may not contain too many landmark tracks, it's one of the most naturally enjoyable albums we may hear all year.
Album's highlights: "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'", "It's All Good", "I Feel a Change Comin' On", "Forgetful Heart", "My Wife's Home Town"
Most Recent Customer Reviews
“Together Through Life” by Bob Dylan, released by Columbia Records from US in 2009, contains 10 songs.Read more